Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Juventus advances in Champions Cup

SHOWDOWN After beating Real Madrid, Juventus will play fellow Italians AC Milan in the final, which is scheduled for May 28 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England


Juventus forward David Trezeguet of France, right, challenges for the ball with Real Madrid's Luis Figo of Portugal in the Champions League semifinal soccer match at the Delle Alpi stadium in Turin, Italy, Wednesday. Juventus Alessandro Del Piero is behind.


Alessandro Del Piero scored one goal and set up another Wednesday as Juventus advanced to the Champions Cup final after beating defending champion Real Madrid 3-1 in the second leg of the semifinals and 4-3 on aggregate.

Juventus will play fellow Italian club AC Milan in the Champions Cup final, which is scheduled for May 28 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. On Tuesday, Milan edged crosstown rival Inter Milan on away goals after drawing 1-1 in the second leg.

It will be the second time two teams from the same country have played in the Champions Cup final. In 2000, Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 in an all-Spanish final.

The Spanish powerhouse, a nine-time Champions Cup titlist, was overwhelmed throughout by the home team, which was quicker and physically stronger on the field.

Real suffered from the shaky condition of some of its best stars.

Raul, returning from an absence of nearly one month following an emergency appendix surgery, was easily controlled by the Juventus defense, masterminded by Lilian Thuram, Paolo Montero and Igor Tudor.

In front, Del Piero, Juventus' leading scorer in the Serie A this season with 16 goals, repeatedly put the Spanish defense in trouble with classy moves and scoring attempts.

Del Piero scored his 36th European goal in the 43rd minute, shaking off Michel Salgado and Fernando Hierro before beating Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

In the 12th minute, Del Piero headed a cross from Pavel Nedved to a waiting David Trezeguet, who scored his second goal of the two-leg series to give the hosts an early lead. Trezeguet scored the crucial away goal last week when Madrid won the first leg 2-1.

Nedved added a third in the 73rd minute. But the Czech international will miss the final against AC Milan after picking up another yellow card in the 82nd.

Nedved broke into tears at the end of the match, despite qualification, saying that a Champions Cup final had been his dream since he was a child.

Ronaldo, who limped off the field in the first leg with a minor injury to his left calf muscle, started the match on the bench but came on as a substitute in the 52nd minute.

The Brazilian star drew a penalty in the 66th when Uruguayan defender Montero brought him down, but 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon saved Luis Figo's penalty kick a minute later.

``I believe it was a decisive save. La Juve played an impressive match and deserved to reach the final. Now I hope we can take the Cup to Turin,'' Buffon said.

Figo failed to convert the penalty with the score at 2-0. A 2-1 score would have taken the match to extra time.

Seven minutes later, Nedved scored with a right volley on a quick counter attack, the goal that sealed Juventus victory and qualification.

Zinedine Zidane got one back for Madrid in the 89th as the Spaniards refused to give up.

``It was an unbelievable joy. We beat a great opponent and finally reached a Champions final after many years. For me its the fourth final as coach. This season is going to become fantastic for us,'' coach Marcello Lippi said.

Juventus, a two-time Champions Cup winner, also won its 28th Serie A title last weekend. La Juve last won this competition in 1996 and will be in the final for the seventh time. Five-time winner AC Milan will be playing in its ninth final and last won the European title in 1994. In 1998, Real Madrid beat Juventus 1-0 in the Champions Cup final in Amsterdam. It was Juventus' third straight final under Lippi's direction.

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